SpaceX to give National Reconnaissance Office a lift

Space Coast, FL – This afternoon SpaceX was in preparations for their final and 26th launch of 2020. The mission, NROL-108, for the National Reconnaissance Office is slated to lift off tomorrow December 17, 2020 with a 3 hour launch window. That window spans from 0900-1200 EST (1400-1700 UTC).

LC-39A, Horizontal Falcon 9
Falcon 9 B1059.5 horizontal at LC-39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL, USA | photo: Jon Van Horne

Falcon 9 B1059.5

This particular rocket booster will be making it’s 5th flight tomorrow and potential RTLS (Return To Launch Site). Which will be happening on LC-13 or LZ-1 (Landing Zone 1) on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 has flown and landed on 4 previous missions; CRS-19, CRS-20, Starlink L8 and SAOCOM 1B.

Falcon 9 Horizontal at LC-39A
Fairing halves containing the NROL-108 satellite on top of Falcon 9 B1059.5 | photo: Jon Van Horne

NROL-108

A top secret and classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. No details of this payload is available to the public. The mission logo is a Gorilla with the words “Peace Through Strength – NROL-108”

Falcon 9 being raised vertically at LC-39A
Falcon 9 B1059.5 going vertical at LC-39A, NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA | photo: Jon Van Horne

There is the possibility that residents of Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Indian River, Seminole, and Volusia counties may hear one or more sonic booms during the landing attempt.

Residents of Brevard County are most likely to hear one or more sonic booms. However, what residents experience will depend on weather conditions and other factors. A sonic boom is a brief thunder-like noise that a person on the ground hears when an aircraft or other vehicle flies overhead faster than the speed of sound.

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